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Displaced family thank Bermuda

Thank you, Bermuda: Nina, Jeannette, Mark, Jasper and Leo Forte (Photograph supplied)

A family who fled a hurricane-devastated Caribbean island last year to find refuge in Bermuda are on their way home.

Mark and Jeannette Forte and their three children were welcomed by the island after the British Virgin Islands was hammered by Hurricane Irma last September.

Now, as the family prepare to resume their lives in BVI, they thanked Bermuda for coming to their rescue.

Jeannette Forte said: “We cannot begin to thank you all enough for the way we have been treated by each and every person we have encountered.”

Her husband, Mark Forte, added: “I don’t think we felt that we were imposing on Bermuda and I think Bermuda in that sense made us feel very welcome.”

Mr Forte said that they would either have been split up, or back in England, had it not been for Bermuda’s help.

He added: “We have been extremely fortunate.”

Ms Forte relocated to Bermuda with children Leo, 18, Nina, 17, and Jasper, 14, in September last year after Irma battered the BVI with 185mph winds after cutting a path of destruction through other Caribbean islands.

Mr Forte, a lawyer with law firm Conyers Dill and Pearman in the BVI, joined them and the children started at Warwick Academy two days after arriving.

As they settled into life on the island, the youngsters spoke about their experience and the damage caused by the Category 5 storm.

Nina said the aftermath of the hurricane was “surreal”.

She added: “It was scary. It was like a bomb went off on the entire island and there wasn’t a tree standing.”

Mr Forte, who left the island with Leo yesterday, said their home would take years to recover.

He added: “In terms of infrastructure it’s a big task — it’s a five-year plan.”

Nina, who returned home for two weeks in April, said she had seen some progress, although a lot more work needed to be done.

Ms Forte added that their house also needed more work but she said: “I’m looking forward to going back and seeing what needs doing and then helping out with that.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again and then establishing a routine.”

She said she would miss the close friends she had made on the island.

She added: “That’s going to be the bittersweet bit.”

Nina said: “I’ve loved the fact that Bermuda is so organised, accessible and advanced. I am going to miss how efficient everything is because when I go back home I know it’s not going to be as efficient.”

The family, originally from Manchester, England, have lived in the BVI for more than 14 years, stayed in Bermuda for nine months so the children could finish their school year.

Nina said she had loved her time at Warwick Academy and thanked her teachers, as well as her school friends for welcoming her into their lives.

She added: “It’s what I needed coming here, the transition being a bit choppy. Having that filled a gap and made it a lot easier to relax.”

Ms Forte added: “All in all, we are incredibly proud of how the kids have dealt with everything because had it been more difficult for them, then it would have been much more difficult for us.

“They have been absolutely strong and sensible.”

The family also thanked taxi driver Troy Bassett, who took them under his wing, and Conyers for making the transition as smooth as possible.

Letter, page 4